Friday, May 19, 2006

A cure for hyperactivity, anybody?

I suffer from hyperactivity or some such. And ritalin does not work on adults!
(That's a joke, ritalin is highly doubtful at best.)

I probably don't have a medical condition, it may be just a personality trait. But some personality traits are undesirable, and some can be modified or alleviated.

I have trouble relaxing more than half an hour at a time. And the only mode of operation I seem to be capable of for any activity at all, even recreational ones, seems to be balls-out, 110% force. Which is ridiculous for most activities, and very stressing. (I suspect that my semi-chronic exhaustion is linked to this.)

So my question is: have anybody found anything to alleviate this condition?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Listening to customers

“In J.D. Power and Associates’ new book, ‘SATISFACTION: How Every Great Company Listens to the Voice of the Customer,’ they’ve been able to directly link changes in customer satisfaction to changes in stock prices..."

I have long been astounded at the complete failure of almost every big company in existence to have an input line from their customers. You know, just an email link on their site for people who have something to tell the company, anything. And crucially, somebody to *answer* those emails!

Apparently it is not considered interesting what the customers have to say!
Or it is not considered cost-effective.
This is weird, because I am running a commercial web site with over 100.000 visitors every day. I encourage feedback, and I read and usually answer all emails. All by me little self. And it is not tough at all. At most an hour a day in total for the stuff that goes beyond strictly necessary customer support.

So can somebody explain to me how Microsoft or Apple Computer, each with billions of dollars in the bank, can't afford to hire a handful of people to answer emails from their customers, without whom the company would not exist?
The resulting boom in satisfaction and loyalty to the company would by far outstrip the expense.

The Kingship Vasa

For those who doubt the wisdom of questioning our leaders, consider the story of the Kingship Vasa.
The story is long and sad. Part of it is that the Swedish King ordered a second row of gun ports, which the design could not carry. The ship was insanely big and expensive. It sank on the way out of the habor on its maiden voyage!

BSing your way in the world

Featured (partial) comment by Wonko:
"I remember an occasion when a famous pop musician (it may have been David Bowie, I'm not sure, happy to be corrected) set up a completely false retrospective of a non-existent, made-up artist using their own works for the show. The opening viewing was filled with people saying stuff like "Well of course I first came across his work in New York in the sixties. I thought then that he was tremendously talented..." and so on. It really was a case of the 'Emperor's New Clothes'. After the assembled art snobs had bulls**tted at each other for a couple of hours the musician stood up and told them - and the assembled press - what was really happening and that they had all been found out! Priceless!"

Yes indeed.
I can't recall ever having the desire to pretend knowing something, in a social situation, and I find it quite incredible that anybody would. What a pitiful life it must be. What spectacular lack of.... SELF.


Wonko wrote in a comment: "I have to confess a dislike for pretention and pomposity, especially when it relates to art."

... No kidding. I watch a lot of films on DVD, and I must have seen the Universal logo 10,000 times (especially give that one is often blasted with it three times on one DVD). You know, the logo circling the planet. That one, like most movie studio logos, is just pompous it burns my hiney like a three-foot flame. Can these people get enough of themselves?

It is a lovely trend in the last few decades that this seems to be disappearing in lieu of inventiveness and fun.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Kids and goals

... Talking about kids:
"63% of adult say, 'I encourage those that I care about to pursue goals that I think are best for them.' Whose life are your children living?"
... from article by Stephen Shapiro.

Good Advice

Good Advice
(from kids)

Making your bed is a waste of time.

Don't ask your three-year-old brother to hold a tomato.

Don't wear polka-dotted underpants under white shorts.

Don't drink anything when you're upside down.

Don't tease your sister when she is holding a baseball bat.

A puppy has bad breath, even after a mint.

Don't tell your mother her diet isn't working.

Wear a hat when feeding seagulls.

Don't eat prunes.

If you want to draw on the wall, do it behind the sofa.

If you want a cat, start by asking for a horse.

Listen to your brain; it has a lot of information.

You need to put your hand up, otherwise adults don't listen to you.

Don't sneeze when somebody is cutting your hair.

When your dad is angry and asks "do you think I'm stupid?" then don't tell him what you think.

When mom is upset with Dad, don't let her comb your hair.

Don't let a dog stand guard over your food.

Keep asking "why" until you understand it.

(I translated these from Danish. Bet you anything that in a year they're all over the Net. :)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

But is it art?

"There’s nothing wrong with discussing whether this or that is or isn’t Art."

... I beg to differ. "It isn't art" has no meaning, it is just a way of denegrating something you don't like.
Even the worst art, say a Barbie-doll photo-comic, is definitely art.

It is not even very productive to call it bad or good. It is just for different audiences.

I think the art snob has his head up his ass. When he complains that pop art (music, literature, whatever) is crap, he is forgetting that we all are at different points and perspectives. It is no use to demand that somebody should read Shakespeare or Milton, if that person is challenged by Adventures of Batman.
(And incidentally, that title is for kids. There has also been Batman stories written for adults which have been damn fine art/literature and decidedly for adults. The Dark Knight Returns comes to mind.)

Educated individuals

Here's an imponderable I am pondering sometimes:
What makes for a well-rounded individual?
Do you need to know your classics? Classic books, plays, films?
Do you need to know your contemporary culture?
Do you need to know what is going on in the world?
Do you need to be well-versed in a specialty field?
Do you need to know your basic science, physics, astronomy... ?
Do you need to know something about art in general?

The tempting thing is to answer "yes" to all of them, but the issue quickly presents itself that each of those, well done, is easily a full time study, leaving no time for all the others.
... Which of course gives us the conundrum, is it best to compromise and know a little in all of them, or to specialize?
How about the scientist who is a world leader in his field, but who has no idea who Tom Cruise or David Bowie are? Is he to be pitied compared to the person who can talk to anybody about any culture, but who will leave little mark on the world in his lifetime?

I agree with commentators that interest must be the drive.
But this is for individuals. We also judge each other, and make demands. This is perhaps most clearly felt in the school system. Students are required to learn many things that only a tiny minority of them will ever use in practice. The reason for this can only be society's (that's all of us) desire to raise well-rounded individuals.
... Which is... good? I guess? Or would we all ultimately be better off if all of us only had to study what we are really interested in?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A praise to whimsy

His rival it seems had broken his dreams
By stealing the girl of his fancy.
Her name was Magil and she called herself Lil
But everyone knew her as Nancy.
Now she and her man (who called himself Dan)
Were in the next room at the hoe down
-- Rocky Racoon by The Beatles

I'd like to call a toast to whimsy in art.
Great messages are, uh, great. But we must not forget that a prime function of art is whimsy, inventiveness, and just fun.
Strangely, some of the best people for that, in music, is the Japanese. Perhaps it is a reaction to the extremely hard and serious culture they live in.
The Beatles was impressive in that their most whimsical work was at the end of their run, a time when most others have lost it. Just look at the fantastic artists Kate Bush and Sinead O'Connor. Both of those did wonderful fancyful and carefree work for a few years and then got bogged down in expectations or whatever, and everything got so serious and frankly rather boring.

I am a cat but got no tin tin tail
Put on a pinkly lip cream on funny face
But I'm a cat live in a candy canvas
And I am happy happy staying in here....

Fantastic Cat
I play my mini mini moog
Fantastic Cat
I play a piece of strange music
hoo hoo...
I'm a fantastic cat
Are you OK? Here I go!
-- Fantastic Cat by Takako Minekawa

Howl's Moving Castle

As magical as My Neighbor Totoro, and with an occasionally more gripping story, and certainly more spectacular visuals: Howl's Moving Castle. Awesome.


Out there in the desert, rats and mice dance together, on their delirious quest for food and friendship, longing for lost memories of christmases past.